Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose of Doozy #6: There Ain't No Sanity Clause: the Marx Brothers

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3. Which of the five conditions we associated with visual slapstick comedy (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent) remain operative in the use of verbal slapstick in the movies? The Marx brothers use exaggerated/physical/repetitive as the catalyst for comedy in the scene and it works brilliantly. The best use was through repetitive phrases meant to confuse and humor the viewer!

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1. How well does Alan Dale's definition of verbal slapstick fit the Marx Brothers?

They're masters of slapstick, and perhaps the best I've ever seen. They use the physical and verbal forms of slapstick that are incredibly famous and watchable today. Their work is timeless. 

2. Can you identify specific "characteristic gags" that Groucho and Chico use in their on-screen performance of this extended verbal slapstick gag?

 

Chico always relies on the silly ( but crafty) Italian immigrant, which in itself is ironic because they"re Jewish. And Groucho tries to play straight, but is really the one driving the show. He  also thinks he's being crafty, but in the end Chico gets the last laugh. 

 

3. Which of the five conditions we associated with visual slapstick comedy (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent) remain operative in the use of verbal slapstick in the movies?

 

Exaggerated: Not being able to see/hear/read the contract. Costumes. Ripping of contract.

 

Physical, lesser here, but exaggerated tearing up of contract and Groucho's sarcasm with Chico's feigned inability to read and laughter. 

 

Repeitive: Dual contract tearing

 

Make believe: The whole scene is silly 

 

Painful/violent: Not so much here.

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First of all I do enjoy the Marx brothers.  

 

1. How well does Alan Dale's definition of verbal slapstick fit the Marx Brothers?  I think that Alan Dale's definition fits the Marx brothers perfectly.  As if he wrote the definition for verbal slapstick just for their brand of comedy.

 

2. Can you identify specific "characteristic gags" that Groucho and Chico use in their on-screen performance of this extended verbal slapstick gag?  The witty banter used by Groucho and Chico is classic.  Its funny and direct with out being rude or crude like today's humor.  The way they tear up the contract as they read each clause, until ultimately Chico declares there is no sanity clause hits the nail on the head!

3. Which of the five conditions we associated with visual slapstick comedy (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent) remain operative in the use of verbal slapstick in the movies?  It depends on the movie.  This question is to broad and would require further discussion according to each movie in question.  However, any or all of the five conditions can be present during verbal slapstick.

1) you might have a point with that. I don't know when the book was written but I think that a definition like that probably came from the study of the best of the genre so why wouldn't it be based, primarily, on them. 

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The Marx Brothers were the masters of fun and joke! In this gag we saw how smart they were even in verbal slapstick! I really found it hilarious and extremely smart what they did! Fun through language can be too hard and yet so joyful!

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1. How well does Alan Dale's definition of verbal slapstick fit the Marx Brothers?

Oh yeah, they verbally slap each other with a stick clear across the room.

2. Can you identify specific "characteristic gags" that Groucho and Chico use in their on-screen performance of this extended verbal slapstick gag?

The play on words banter between the two before ripping the contract to shreds is a clear example because you can't fool Chico there ain't no sanity clause.

3. Which of the five conditions we associated with visual slapstick comedy (exaggerated, physical, repetitive/ritualistic, make believe, painful/violent) remain operative in the use of verbal slapstick in the movies?

Repetitive ripping up the contract and stating party of what part, where. That and the painful jokes. They'll split your side if you're not careful.

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The definition as said by Alan Dale fits perfectly for this scene. The Marx Brothers are excellent comedians with amazing calibre in verbal comedy. I feel that Groucho Marx is well known among his brothers as the "Man with Wits" and he outshines very well in his acts. The characteristics gags in this scene is the contract which amplifies their verbal humor at the great extend. They even goes to a point where they says that they can't even see the contract. I feel that this scene is exaggerated with the presence of contract. It is ritualistic as they go on tearing the contract in pieces till the last piece in their hands. Finally, it is a make believe as they are talking about contract when they don't even know anything about it.

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